Mystery of The Kadu Malleshwara Temple

Malleshwaram in Bengaluru, has always been a locality of high prestige. It is a north western district within the city. It developed as a suburb during the great plague of 1898, which made lots of people move out from the city centre. It derives its name from the Kadu Malleshwara temple. The temple today stands amidst the bustling streets of Malleshwaram. Built in Dravidian style architecture, it is a known architectural marvel and one of the most famous temples of Bengaluru. One has to climb nearly forty steps to reach the temple.

The main deity of this temple is Lord Shiva in the form of the ‘Shiva Lingam’. The temple dates back to the seventeenth century. It was built by Vyankoji Bhonsle in the year 1669 and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the temple was built in the middle of a thick dense forest, and hence the name ‘Kadu’, which means forest in the local language of Kannada.

The temple is also known as ‘Dakshinamukhi Nandi’ which means ‘South facing Nandi’ in Kannada. Although, the actual name of the temple is – “Sri Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyani Kshetra”. And it is very interesting to see the functions within the temple help make up its name. For instance, ‘Tirtha’ means holy water, is the water that flows out of Nandi’s mouth. This water flows from the Nandi’s mouth over the Shivalingam into a stepped tank in the middle of the temple called ‘Kalyani’. ‘Kshetra’ means place in Kannada. All this combined adds up to the name.

This temple was completely buried underground till the year 1997. During some construction process near the temple, the workers found another temple of ‘Nandi’ (a statue of a bull which is called the vehicle of Lord Shiva) buried. Further excavation resulted in the discovery of a small pool of water on the mound. They dug deeper and found there was a large temple on the mound. The Archaeological Survey of India, ASI then completed the excavation, and found the perfectly preserved central pool of water surrounded by granite steps and pillared mantapas. Having a courtyard supported by ancient stone pillars, a Nandi carved out of black stone with eyes painted in gold resides in it.  

The source of the water flowing out of the Nandi’s mouth is not known. It can be a natural fresh water spring that emerges from under the temple and channeled to flow out through the Nandi. It is believed that this water is the source of the Vrishabhavati river. Some people also claim that the water comes from the Sankey Tank, located just a few hundred meters from the temple. No matter what the source of water is, this temple is an undeniable feat of ancient hydraulic engineering.

To truly unravel the mystery behind its source would mean investing in a think tank comprising of water engineers, civil engineers, scientists, technocrats and visionaries. It can be done but for that to happen someone important has to take a firm decision.

Written By: Devashish

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